Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Step 22 - Insulation

Insulation gets put in after the rough-in inspections are passed and right before drywall.  Seeing the insulation in place is a payoff similar to completed sheetrock (yet not quite as rewarding.)   Consider the conditions on a renovation before the insulation is installed.  Old dark wood and bright clean lumber are oftentimes nailed in the walls next to the new framing material that's clean and bright.  Running through all this structural framing is yellow, black, and white electrical wire mixed with red, white, and blue plumbing and silver duct work.  Seeing the uniformity that comes with installed insulation brings a change to the interior and a hint that the finish line is out there.

A couple things regarding insulation that may be off the radar of someone who's never renovated or built a home before.  First, the two most common types of insulation are batt and blown.  Batt insulation is what comes in rolls and looks like pink, yellow, or white cotton candy backed with paper that faces the heated space of a building.  This goes in the walls, under the floors, and can go in the ceilings.  Blown insulation is the stuff that looks like fluffy snow (but also can be gray or pink.)  It's used in attics most frequently, but in older homes where insulation is missing on the exterior walls, blown insulation may be the best way to insulate the vertical walls as well.  I saw an episode of Rehab Addict where Nicole Curtis and her team put plastic inside over the laths and then blew insulation from the top down through each cavity on the home's perimeter.  Also, I'll add that I heard Mike Holmes (Holmes Inspection) singing the praises of spray foam insulating the entire home in lieu of batt or blown.  SFI has never been the way for us to go on any of the renovations or new homes I've done.  We use SFI in the holes left after rough-in and for any small cavities, but this is to keep insects and lizards from coming inside.  This material comes in a can and is minimal, yet effective the way we use it and a routine part of Step 22.

Batt Insulation

Thick blown insulation with baffles running up through the roof joists.

VRPF Insulation - bathroom.
In the bathrooms we always use vapor-retarder plastic faced insulation shown in the picture on the right.  However, you can also install plastic as a vapor barrier that will keep moisture in the bathroom from becoming a mold issue inside the walls around the bathroom. 

Also, I want to point out the need for roof ventilation baffles.  These are Styrofoam materials that feel and resemble Styrofoam egg cartons.  They can be stubbed out (as shown in the photo with the blown insulation above) or in the case of a sloped ceiling covered with drywall they may run a longer length between the roof sheathing/planks and the insulation. These baffles are significant because they insure air flow from outside vents up and out through the attic.   Without them, the attic will be hotter than it needs to be in the summer and the roof will have a shorter life than predicated by the manufacturer's warranty.   

Although, I have taken on the insulation scope on a couple of my jobs, I've veered away from that on the majority of my projects because I have a dependable company here that does a great job for me.  They're efficient and highly reputable and have never failed me or the local inspections we're required to pass.  Along with that it's cost effective because they always knock this work out for me in one day whether I have a small project or a large house that's several thousand square feet.  They do it all; the batt, the blown, the spray foam of the cavities, and the baffles.  If you have a company like this in your area and they can do it for you for the same cost as you doing it yourself, I'd encourage you to use them.

After the insulation is complete prepares the home for one of my favorite times of any project:  Step 23 - Drywall/Sheetrock/Wallboard.

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